Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our apartment

View from the balcony
It's been a long time since either Brian or I lived in an apartment. I guess when you have a house, you don't really think about renting again. But here we are in our 2 bedroom penthouse. It's not really a penthouse but it's on the 5th floor (4th floor if you are European and start counting with the ground floor at 0) and we like it. It's about 950 square feet if my metric conversion is correct, so there's lots of space.  We can look out the window and watch traffic, people walking down the street, judge how cold it is by what they are wearing (scarves are misleading though), and the other day I threw an allen wrench out the window so that Brian could pick it up on the sidewalk without climbing all the stairs up to our place. We have a little balcony too, which is convenient for  getting fresh air and smoking cigars, for those of us who do that.

Our bedroom is the only room in the house that is mostly finished. So all that's lacking there are some pictures on the wall and our clothes (currently on a ship somewhere, hopefully in Europe). Here's how it looks:
There are no closets in homes here, which I think is common in Europe. So we decided to get some clothing organizers and racks for hangers and put the screens in front to make a pseudo walk-in closet in the bedroom. It seemed like a better idea than buying big wardrobe cabinets, and at that point we were trying to avoid constructing any more Ikea furniture than we had to. Since we couldn't bring our bed, we brought the aerobed on the plane and slept on it for a couple of weeks.  Two person beds here actually have 2 singe size mattresses.  So the frame holds them both but there is definitely a crease in the middle! I spent days trying to find a top sheet and could only find fitted sheets. Then I realized that they don't use top sheets here - just duvets with covers on them.

There is no laundry room in the building, but people here usually have their own washing machines in the kitchen or the bathroom.  Our friends here, Anne and Andy Sallee, helped us find a place that sells used washing machines and arranged a delivery. What that meant was that an older guy and his daughter pulled up in a truck one day with about 10 washing machines in the back of a truck. I picked one, bought it, and the 3 of us hauled it upstairs. The man was huffing so badly and sweating so much I thought he might have a heart attack. Then they couldn't hook it up because we apparently didn't have the right hoses or something. The girl wrote down what I needed and told me in her small amount of English that I had to go to the hardware store. So (thanks to the internet) I figured out where one is and how to get there, found the plumbing section, and showed the note to the lady working there, along with some pictures I had taken from under the sink. She gestured, and repeated herself, and I nodded after catching about 20% of what she said based on the context and her pointing. It took another trip to the hardware store and I eventually hooked up the machine. It was leaking until a plumber came last week to fix our water heater (which is located in the shower, yes, in the shower) and he tightened it up for me. So now our clothes can be clean in lots of small batches, because the machine doesn't hold much. Nobody uses dryers either. I guess they use too much energy or something. So air drying on a rack works ok but we are getting used to much stiffer clothes. I have started to plan laundry day based on the weather forecast.

We had to buy "the kitchen". Meaning that in Germany, people take their appliances, lighting fixtures, and everything else with them when they move. Luckily the former tenants were willing to sell us their fridge and ktichen, which is a unit with a sink, a stove/oven, and some counter space and drawers. Apparently we are lucky they didn't decide to take the doorknobs!

The rest of our apartment is anxiously awaiting the arrival of our stuff. We shipped some furniture, decorations, etc that should help it be more cozy. Here's our living room. We decided not to buy a TV but we did get a projector to plug into the computer to show TV and movies on the wall. In this photo you can see our fancy homemade projector, complete with a stool and cardboard box.

So that's the mundane info about our place. I told you this wouldn't all be exciting!

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.